Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 16 June 2011

Venue: Room 30

The meeting commenced at 2.04 p.m. in public session.

1. Apologies

None.

2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 9 June 2011

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 9 June 2011 .

3. Matters Arising

  1. The Committee considered correspondence from the Department of Justice providing an update on unresolved equal pay claims for PSNI support staff and department of justice civil servants.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a copy of the Department’s letter to individuals who had written to the Committee on the issue.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department of Justice seeking further information/comment on the issues that had been raised in the letters received from the individuals concerned with this matter.
  2. The Chairman advised Members that the Minister of Justice would attend the Committee meeting on 23 June 2011 to update the Committee on the Legal Aid dispute.
  3. The Committee noted an invitation to the launch of the Prison Service Strategic Efficiency and Effectiveness Review (SEE) Programme on 28 June in Castle Buildings.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed that Members would inform the Clerk if they wished to attend the launch.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed that a briefing on the SEE Programme should be scheduled for the next meeting on 23 June, prior to the launch of it. If necessary the briefing would be held in closed session.
  4. The Committee noted an updated Work Programme.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed that the discussion on future work priorities should be rescheduled to 23 June 2011.

The Committee noted the views of a Member who would not be available for the discussion that the development of a new Victims of Crime Strategy should be a priority.

4. Overview Briefing on Planned Justice Legislation

Gareth Johnston, Head of Justice Strategy Division, Maura Campbell, Head of Criminal Justice Development Division, David Hughes, Deputy Director of Policing Policy and Strategy Division and Amanda Patterson, Head of Public Protection Unit, Justice Strategy Division joined the meeting at 2.11 p.m.

The officials provided a briefing on the Department’s planned legislative programme and answered questions from Members. Issues covered included the current position in Westminster in relation to taking forward remedial legislation on the sex offender notification requirements; the timescale for consulting on the sex offender notification proposals; whether there was scope for the proposed Justice Strategy Bill to be taken forward as several smaller and more focused Bills; whether new statutory time limits for criminal trials would be included in the Justice Strategy Bill; the rationale for the creation of a single Court Jurisdiction; whether alternative community service based disposals had been considered for fine defaulters; how the Department sought views on areas to be included in a Justice Bill;

2.40 p.m. Mr Wells joined the meeting.

whether issues around ‘fitness to plead’ would be looked at in the Mental Capacity Bill; access to justice issues; whether the proposed Justice Strategy Bill covered restorative justice measures; and the negative image portrayed by the title of the Compliance Bill.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.

5. Legislative Consent Motion – Ticket Touting for Olympic Games Tickets

Gareth Johnston, Head of Justice Strategy Division, Tom Haire, Head of Criminal Law Branch and David Mercer, Justice Strategy Division joined the meeting at 3.02 p.m.

3.03 p.m. Mr Maginness left the meeting.

The officials briefed the Committee on the proposal to bring a Legislative Consent Motion (LCM) to the Assembly in relation to a Westminster Bill that would allow for the increase in the maximum penalty available on conviction for the offence of unauthorised selling of tickets for an Olympics 2012 event.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including the purchase of tickets on-line and from non UK based websites; whether the proposed legislation addresses a real need; current conviction rates for ticket touting in the UK; whether the new legislation can be practicably enforced; and clarification on whether the legislation provides that the offence lies with the purchaser or seller of the tickets.

3.18 p.m. Mr Maginness rejoined the meeting.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department of Justice highlighting the reservations and concerns expressed by Members but indicating that, on balance and with objections by some Members, the Committee was prepared to go down the route of a legislative consent motion with reluctance.

3.25 p.m. Mr Eastwood left the meeting.
3.25 p.m. Mr Weir left the meeting.

6. Long Term Objectives for Policing

David Hughes, Deputy Director of Policing Policy and Strategy Division and Tim Logan, Head of Strategy and Support Branch joined the meeting at 3.25 p.m.

The officials briefed the Committee on the consultation responses on proposed long term objectives for policing and answered questions from Members. Issues covered included why there was such a poor response to the consultation from the community and voluntary sector; how the revised policing objectives would reflect consultee responses; clarification of the meaning of ‘external interference’ in relation to objective five; and how the police are accountable to the public.

3.37 p.m. Mr Weir rejoined the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a summary of the responses received on the consultation and a copy of the revised draft objectives indicating what account had been taken of the issues raised during the consultation following which it would consider the matter further.

3.42 p.m. Mr McCartney left the meeting.
3.45 p.m. Mr Dickson left the meeting.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.

3.46 p.m. Mr McCrea left the meeting.

7. Policing and Community Safety Partnerships – Consultation on Implementation

David Hughes, Deputy Director of Policing Policy and Strategy Division , Nichola Creagh, Policing Policy and Strategy Division, Declan McGeown, Head of the Community Safety Unit and Amanda Stewart, Partnership Manager, NI Policing Board joined the meeting at 3.46 p.m.

3.51 p.m. Mr McCartney rejoined the meeting.
3.55 p.m. Mr Dickson rejoined the meeting.

The officials briefed the Committee on the progress of implementation work in relation to the new Policing and Community Safety Partnerships and plans to consult on three areas.

A question and answer session followed covering issues including the cost associated with the recruitment of independent members and the need to improve efficiency and value for money; the lack of reference to the Policing Committee in the draft consultation document; designated organisation representation; and guidance provided to Divisional Commanders to accept and answer questions.

3.24 p.m. Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting.

The officials agreed to amend the consultation document to reflect a number of

the issues raised.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Justice highlighting the issues raised by requesting a copy of the revised consultation document for further consideration before it was published.

The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.

8. SL1 – The Divorce and Dissolution etc (Pension Protection Fund) Regulations (NI) 2011 and the Family Proceedings (Amendment No 2) Rules (NI) 2011

The Committee considered a proposal to make two Statutory Rules to make provision in relation to court orders for sharing or attachment of pension compensation on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, nullity of a marriage or a civil partnership or separation (including provision relation to such orders following proceedings overseas) and prescribe the procedure to be followed in the Family Proceedings Court in relation to applications for pension compensation attachment and pension compensation sharing orders.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content with the proposed Statutory Rules .

9. SL1 – The Draft Road Traffic Fixed Penalties (Enforcement of Fines) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011 and draft Direction of the Department of Justice under Article 75 (3) of the Road Traffic Offenders (NI) Order 1996

The Committee considered a proposal to make a Statutory Rule under powers conferred by Article 75 of the Road Traffic Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 to amend the Road Traffic Fixed Penalties (Enforcement of Fines) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1997 to allow for the effective enforcement of an unpaid Fixed Penalty Notice which had been issued in Northern Ireland to a person who resides in England, Wales or Scotland. The Statutory Rule would also allow for a further minor technical tidy-up amendment to be made to the 1997 Regulations to replace references to “Chief Constable” with “relevant person”.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content with the proposed Statutory Rule .

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the proposals to the Committee for the Environment for information.

10. Proposal to introduce a new PSNI Injury on Duty Scheme

The Committee considered proposals to introduce a new Injury on Duty Scheme which would reform the current police injury benefits scheme. The new scheme would be introduced by way of a negative resolution Statutory Rule and the final proposals will be presented to the Committee for consideration in the autumn.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Policing Board seeking its views on the proposals .

Agreed: The Clerk would discuss revised handling arrangements with the Department of Justice for issues that are taken to the Police Negotiation Board for discussion.

11. Bribery Act 2010 – Commencement and Consequential Amendment Orders

The Committee noted an update on the Bribery Act 2010 which was due to be commenced across the UK on 1 July 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request further information on the likely timescale for the further tidying-up of the Devolution of Policing and Justice Function Order.

12. Correspondence

  1. The Committee noted an invitation to attend the launch of the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) Annual Report and Threat Assessment to be held on Thursday 30 June 2011 at the Odyssey Complex, Belfast.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed that Members would inform the Clerk if they wished to attend this event.
  2. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice advising of a Home Office proposal to create new regulations to exempt a number of security staff from the Security Industry Authority licensing requirements for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The regulations would not have a direct impact as there were no Olympic competition venues in Northern Ireland.
  3. The Committee noted that the Minister of Justice’s intended to make a statement in the Assembly on Tuesday 21 June 2011 on the Intergovernmental Agreement on Criminal Justice Co-Operation.
  4. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice on plans to develop a new strategy for victims and witnesses of crime.
    Agreed: The Committee would give further consideration to this when discussing its work priorities at the meeting on 23 June.
  5. The Committee noted the Department of Justice Victim and Witness Annual Action Plan 2011-12.

4.43 p.m. Mr Dickson left the meeting.

  1. The Committee considered correspondence from the Department of Justice on progress on seeking legal clarity on the current practice of deducting stockbrokers’ management fees from the funds of clients of Court Funds Office whose funds have been invested (by order of the court).
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department seeking clarification of the decision to commence section 98 of the Justice Act 2011 rather than await the outcome of the High Court Proceedings.

4.44 p.m. Mr Dickson rejoined the meeting.

  1. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice advising of policy development progress on the issue of disclosure of information on sex offenders for child protection purposes. A further up-date would be provided in the autumn.
  2. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice enclosing a copy of the Home Secretary’s Plan for a National Crime Agency.

4.45 p.m. Mr Wells left the meeting.

  1. The Committee considered the findings of a NI Courts and Tribunals Service Review of Court Orders made in Sexual Offences Cases from 1997 to 2011.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Justice regarding the significant number of disappearances and errors in sexual offence cases dealt with by the Crown Court and Magistrates’ Courts in Northern Ireland, particularly in relation to disqualification orders and seeking an assurance that all necessary action is being urgently taken to address the errors and ensure that this situation would not arise in the future.
  2. The Committee noted a Criminal Justice Inspectorate report entitled “An Inspection of Public Protection Arrangements Northern Ireland”.
  3. The Committee considered correspondence from the Rural Community Network requesting an opportunity to meet with the Committee to discuss issues that impact on rural communities.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to hold an informal meeting with representatives from the Rural Community Network.
  4. The Committee considered correspondence from the Prince’s Trust requesting an opportunity to meet with the Committee to discuss its work.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to hold an informal meeting with representatives from the Prince’s Trust.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed that the arrangements should be made to hold the informal meetings on 30 June before the scheduled Committee meeting.
  5. The Committee noted the Report of the Prisoner Ombudsman into the death in custody of Allyn James Baxter.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed that a briefing by the Prisoner Ombudsman on her report should be scheduled before summer recess.
  6. The Committee noted an invitation from Mencap NI to the launch of its ‘Stand by Me’ campaign to tackle hate crime on 20 June 2011 in Newforge Country Club, Belfast.

13. Chairman’s Business

The Chairman advised Members that he intended to accept an invitation from Include Youth to visit one of their offices to meet with the staff and young people.

14. Any Other Business

None.

15. Date and Time of next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 23 June 2011 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

4.49 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
23 June 2011

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